Posted by Rachel James, Partner
Damages for family of factory maintenance worker after another firm gives up
Rachel James recently acted for Mrs L, the daughter of Mr A who had passed away from asbestosis, having worked as a factory maintenance worker for A Pank and Sons Ltd and Carley’s chocolate factory in Norwich.
Mr A is thought to have joined Panks as an apprentice plumber in 1938. His apprenticeship was interrupted by his war service, and he returned to his job at Panks in 1946 following being demobbed from the Navy. As part of his work at Panks, Mr A maintained and repaired the heating systems, stripping the asbestos off sections of pipe work. Once he had carried out repairs, he mixed up raw asbestos powder into a paste in order to re-lag the pipework.
Mr A left his job at Panks in 1949, to move to a new job at the Caley’s chocolate factory in Norwich as a plumber/maintenance man, where he continued to strip asbestos lagging from pipework, replace pipes and mix up asbestos lagging from raw powder to re-lag the pipes. After leaving Caley’s in 1956, Mr A did not work with asbestos again. Sadly, in 2015, a scan for another medical condition found that he had pulmonary fibrosis. While the pulmonary fibrosis Mr A was diagnosed with was not initially thought to have been caused by exposure to asbestos dust, after he passed away, a post mortem examination found both pleural plaques and asbestosis in Mr A’s lungs. The coroner advised Mrs L to seek advice from a specialist solicitor in order to bring a claim on behalf of her father’s estate.
Mrs L initially sought advice from a leading specialist law firm, but after investigating the claim, they advised Mrs L that her father’s work had been too early for a successful claim to be pursued. Mrs L then approached the specialist asbestos disease team at Royds Withy King, who were able to secure damages for her on behalf of her father’s estate, despite the early nature of his exposure to asbestos.
Mrs L said “I know it has proved to be quite a difficult case, so I would like to thank you all for your hard work.”
Rachel commented “I am so pleased to have settled this claim after another firm has failed. Even as long ago as the 1940s and 1950s the dangers of asbestos were known and legislation like the Asbestos Industry Regulations 1931 should have helped protect Mr A. We assess every case on its merits instead of adopting hard and fast rules when exposure asbestos is ‘too early’.”